Introducing Team OB
Released On 22nd Jul 2017
This week I am thrilled to present our Team OB video - it is a very quick snap shot of the team, but it introduces you to a big proportion of the people behind your Owen Barry product.
It is not the definitive team of course, some people were away on the day, some people declined to have their soul stolen, some are just so famous we couldn't afford the royalties - but it is a good representation of the skilled staff behind your Owen Barry purchase.
Our staff skills & job responsibilities are a massive topic that I know many of you are interested in, and an area that brings huge engagement on the factory tours.
To do each area justice would take more than just one blog, so I thought I would concentrate on just one area at a time and today, it is the less well-known area of the dark arts - the role of the Prepper.
Prepper is abbreviation/slang of Preparer, definition: - to put in proper condition or readiness: to prepare a patient for surgery.
The role of the prepper is a very skilled and diverse one, and sometimes under-rated in this industry "cutters and machinists" are skills that usually seem to catch the glamour headlines, but actually a prepper is the conduit between those jobs, there is not a single product coming thru the workshop that is not handled by one or two, perhaps even three specialist preppers.
So, what is it that Preppers do?
Well In our factory, they
Check the quality, accuracy and quantity of the cut components
Every panel has to be QC'd (quality controlled) to make sure it is up to standard, that it is the correct weight, thickness, that no wool or hair has slipped or even bald, that no defect has been cut in, that it has been cut accurately to shape and that all of the notches (marks for guiding) have been made and placed correctly. They check that there is the correct number of panel pieces and where appropriate that the skin in these panels has been aligned correctly (nap, hair/wool, markings etc).
Splitting, Shearing or Skiving
These are names for tasks that make area's of components thinner, we do this to help in the manufacture, it makes the turning, stitching and ultimately the look and even the weight of the product better.
Is carried out on a specialist machine that is set up to accurately remove fine layers from the back of the skin - think peeling a potato, then think about doing that with the removed strips as thin as newspaper! Shearing is the process of removing unwanted wool from areas with a set of handheld bespoke clippers, - like a haircut, but a very precise haircut. No, we can’t do a short back and sides in the lunch hour – these are especially adapted very sharp shears.
Next, they attach the appropriate tapes, this is done to stop the panels from stretching and distorting with wear over time. As you know, all skin has its natural elasticity that helps it return to its original shape, but just like with my knicker elastic this "return" fades over time, so to avoid flabby pockets, saggy hems, skinny straps, these are structure tapes are applied to ensure the stress areas retain their shape.
Turn edges and mark lines
This precision ground work is essential to aid the machinist, ensuring that they get straight lines and perfect curves, the prepper will stick and turn key edges and detail areas, this means that the machinist can reliably sew knowing the components are accurate, uniform and free flowing.
Zips, tassles, straps etc
All of these important areas have to be individually prepared. Measuring, marking, gluing, trimming - every feature varied and complex, dexterity and an eye for detail are paramount here.
By that we mean, magdots, eyelets, rivets, OB Signature pins, the list goes on and on, all of these have to be attached, accurately, under the right amount of pressure/weight to ensure perfect operation in the right place.
Labels, tabs, spares, stuff
All individually bagged and added to the work boxes, so they are safe, together and accessible for the next person in line.
Every one of these jobs must be done with, speed, accuracy, & dexterity, and it has to be done for at least 100 different styles every season, yes there are spec sheets for guidance, but every skin is different, it doesn't come off a roll. Skin is a natural, individual material so the Prepper, not only has to remember all the different requirements, stages and components for every style they also have to make allowances for and adjust to the nuances of every skin.
So next time you read the expression "Hand cut and Made in Somerset, England" spare a thought for the Prepper, one of the most anonymous and yet the most intrinsic contributors to the perfect manufacture of an Owen Barry product, they ensure that our renowned lifetime guarantee, will last for just that.
Ian, Lynne, Alex - take a bow please.